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Polish Tatra Sheepdog: Info, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Polish Tatra Sheepdog

Height: 22-26 inches
Weight: 80-130 pounds
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Colors: White
Suitable for: Active families, those looking for an indefatigable working dog
Temperament: Loyal, protective, territorial, suspicious, intelligent, patient, calm

To protect the sheep, you must first become the sheep. At least, that seems to be the mindset preferred by the massive Polish Tatra Sheepdog, as they have an all-white double coat that allows them to blend in with the flock. Predators will likely think that the dog is just another tasty morsel — until they run into the pup’s teeth, that is.

Few dogs make better guard dogs than the Polish Tatra Sheepdog, as they’re naturally suspicious of outsiders and protective of their families. Despite this, these dogs aren’t vicious unless extremely provoked, and they can calmly lounge around small children without issue for hours on end.

These dogs are fairly rare outside their Polish homeland, so it’s understandable if you’re not familiar with the breed. If you’d like to know more about these fantastic pups, the guide below will fill you in on the details.

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Polish Tatra Sheepdog Puppies


Polish Tatra Sheepdog puppies look like hyperactive clouds, as they’re tiny little balls of fluff that are in constant motion (and that don’t stay tiny for long). They’ll grow into their coats eventually, but for the first few months, they don’t have much shape to them.

These dogs always have high endurance, but they tend to be fairly calm as adults. That’s not the case when they’re youngsters, though, as they’re non-stop blurs of energy. They’ll need plenty of distractions, whether it’s playtime with you or chew toys to destroy.

If you don’t provide them with something to do, they’ll figure out something on their own — and your shoe collection will pay the price. These dogs have powerful jaws, and they can be destructive if allowed to get bored.

You should be careful with how they’re allowed to play when puppies, though, and limit their exposure to stairs and hard surfaces like concrete. These can jar their spine and joints, leading to mobility issues down the line.

There aren’t many things on this planet as cute as a Polish Tatra Sheepdog puppy, but they’re also extremely active and need a great deal of monitoring, so don’t bring one home with the intention of letting them fend for themselves.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Polish Tatra Sheepdog

1. These dogs know how to deal with predators.

Many sheepdogs make a rookie mistake when a predator shows up: They rush out to meet it, hoping to scare it away or kill it.

While this is an understandable instinct, it also leaves the herd vulnerable while the dog chases after the decoy. Many a sheepdog has come back from a chase feeling triumphant, only to realize that one of their wards is missing.

The Polish Tatra Sheepdog, on the other hand, has a superior strategy. They gather the flock into a tight grouping and then stand at attention in front of it, not leaving their post or lashing out until it becomes absolutely necessary.

Many predators then decide to take their chances finding something else to eat rather than test a dog that’s both super huge and super smart.

2. This is a rare breed.

Official estimates peg the total number of Polish Tatra Sheepdogs in the world to be around 7,500. That’s not very many, but their numbers are holding steady and may even be growing slightly, so the breed doesn’t seem to be on the verge of extinction.

You couldn’t say that after WWII, though. That conflict almost finished these dogs off, and there was only a handful left in the 1960s, when the Federation Cynoligique Internationale stepped in with a concentrated breeding plan.

Their numbers aren’t staggering, but they’re much healthier than they used to be, and every indication is that these dogs are here to stay.

3. Their fur is often used to make wool.

While these dogs are definitely capable of protecting a flock of sheep, sometimes wool is at a premium all the same. Not to fear, though, because if that happens, these dogs can add to the wool supply themselves.

Their thick, double coat is extremely lush, and many owners will shave their dogs to use the fur as wool. This makes for an incredibly cute and comfortable sweater, and it’s a great way to keep the dog cool in the summer months.

It also makes you less likely to complain about all the shedding that they do. After all, they’re not making a mess — they’re making you a wardrobe.

Polish Tatra Sheepdog laying down on the grass
Image Credit: Neon Lilith Photography, Shutterstock

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Polish Tatra Sheepdog 🧠

While you won’t often hear them mentioned alongside notorious geniuses like Poodles or Border Collies, Polish Tatra Sheepdogs may be just as smart as those brainy dogs. They have the ability to think strategically, and they do so often.

That’s part of what makes them such excellent guard dogs. They’re suspicious of outsiders, but they won’t lash out unless given no other choice. The result is a dog that will keep a close eye on your family but that isn’t a risk to have around the neighbors.

This incredible intelligence means that they’re happiest when given a job to do, but if you don’t have any tasks handy, they’ll assign themselves watchdog duties. They’re known for constantly roaming their territory, on the lookout for any sort of potential threat.

These dogs are sweet, loving, loyal, and patient, but they’re not necessarily effervescent about it. They’ll die for their families, but they often prefer to watch things from a distance rather than get in the thick of the action. This makes them good with kids, but don’t expect them to interact with your children too much.

They’re not a good choice if you want a super-affectionate dog. They tend to function more as bodyguards, constantly watching over you to make sure you’re safe, rather than as cuddly pets. They’ll still curl up in your lap occasionally, and it’s all the sweeter for the rarity.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Polish Tatra Sheepdogs are great family dogs. They’re extremely patient and calm around children, and they will go to the ends of the Earth to protect anyone in their inner circle.

That doesn’t mean you should leave your children unattended with them, though. While it’s extremely unlikely that they’ll show aggression toward your kids, it could be devastating if they do. Also, many small kids interpret their patience as an invitation to irritate them as much as possible.

You may need a large family to tucker these dogs out. They’re not a hyper breed, but they have tremendous endurance, and it’s extremely difficult to burn off all their energy. You’ll need to spend a great deal of time exercising them, or you’ll need a large yard or other property that they can roam to their heart’s content.

That may make them a poor fit for sedentary families, seniors, or those with mobility issues, unless you can give them plenty of room to wander around.

Be aware, though, that the breed can be very territorial. They view their home as theirs, and they won’t let just anyone come onto their property. You’ll need to socialize them extremely well if you plan to have guests over often.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

These dogs are fairly calm around just about anyone (provided that they have clearance to be there), and that includes other dogs and small pets. They’re not likely to be aggressive, but neither are they likely to tolerate aggressiveness, so be careful what kinds of animals you pair them with.

Also, these dogs may not play with other pets, choosing instead to herd them. This can quickly become frustrating for the other pet, so be sure to monitor their interactions.

They’re unlikely to be reactive when leashed or on walks, so you can take them out in public without fear. It’s important to understand, though, that having other people and animals coming up to you will likely make them uncomfortable, even if they don’t react poorly to it.

As you might expect, these dogs will do best on a farm or ranch where they can be given actual livestock to watch over. This isn’t feasible for most people, of course, so expect your dog to look for a substitute (which will most likely be you, your family, and your other pets).

Polish Tatra Sheepdog
Image Credit: Unique Vision, Shutterstock

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Things to Know When Owning a Polish Tatra Sheepdog

Most people have never heard of Polish Tatra Sheepdogs, let alone encountered or owned one, so it’s understandable if you have no idea how to raise one of these dogs.

We put together a quick primer on caring for one of these dogs. Hopefully, all your major questions will be covered in the following information.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

These dogs are big, so it should be expected that they’ll eat a lot. They don’t disappoint in this regard, and you should expect to go through quite a bit of dog food. Don’t get this dog if you can’t afford to feed them.

They need a high-protein kibble, as that will give them the long-lasting energy necessary to protect their homes. Try to find one with large amounts of glucosamine as well; anything with fish inside is a good bet. If you can find one that’s also high in fat and fiber, that’s even better.

Avoid unnecessary fillers like wheat, soy, corn, or animal by-products, as these add empty calories and can irritate your dog’s digestive tract. Given that these dogs can be prone to obesity, you want every calorie that they consume to count.

You shouldn’t let them free-feed, but instead, give them portion-controlled meals at regular intervals. This allows you to determine how much they eat, so you can keep their weight under control while ensuring that they don’t go hungry.

Any food that meets all the requirements above is likely to be expensive, so don’t be surprised if you have to splurge for a premium kibble. It’s for the best, though, as money spent on kibble now will likely be money saved on vet bills later.

Exercise 🐕

Polish Tatra Sheepdogs need a ton of exercise — more than you’re likely able to provide. After all, these dogs were bred to run around the mountains protecting sheep and fighting off wolves, neither of which are likely to be regular items on your agenda.

As a result, you’re probably best off if you live in a house with a huge yard or in a rural area where the dog can roam around. They’re not likely to run off, as they’re territorial, but they’ll spend a ton of time patrolling the perimeter.

It’s hard to keep them in the city because you can’t even rely on the dog park to tucker them out. They’re unlikely to play too much with other dogs, as they prefer to guard their home rather than run around in unfamiliar areas.

If you do decide to keep one in a regular-sized home, expect to take them for plenty of long walks and provide them with many things to do. Regular obedience training can tax them mentally, which can tucker them out more quickly than physical exertion, so plan on spending a great deal of time with the treat bag and clicker.

These dogs are bright and excel at obedience trials, but they’re a poor fit for agility training and many other competitions. That’s not because they lack athleticism — far from it. However, all that running and jumping can put a tremendous strain on their back and joints.

Polish Tatra Sheepdog
Image Credit: Asonia, Shutterstock

Training 🦮

These pups are incredibly smart and eager to please, so training them is fairly easy. However, they also have an independent streak and have been known to ignore commands when they feel like they know better, so it’s best if you have experience training dogs before adopting this one.

One of the biggest benefits of training your Polish Tatra Sheepdog is the fact that it helps fatigue them. You’ll probably want to spend at least 30 minutes a day putting them through their paces.

Due to their keen intelligence, these dogs can get bored easily, so you’ll want to mix things up rather than give them the same commands over and over. Fortunately, there’s virtually nothing that they can’t be taught to do, so let your imagination run wild.

Only use positive reinforcement techniques when training them, as they respond poorly to punishment. Punitive measures will likely cause them to distance themselves and ignore you, making the problem worse. They respond better to treats as rewards than affection.

Be careful about how liberally you dole out those treats, though. You don’t want your dog getting fat, as that’s terrible for their health. Instead, give them just enough to keep them motivated, but no more.

Grooming ✂️

If a dog has enough fur to make wool, then you know that grooming will be an issue, and the Polish Tatra Sheepdog certainly doesn’t disappoint in that regard.

These dogs shed so much, especially when they blow their winter coats. They have a thick double coat, and you’ll be amazed at how much hair can fall off a single dog, even a big one. You’ll want to invest in a good brush, a powerful vacuum cleaner, and plenty of lint rollers.

You shouldn’t need to bathe them unless they get visibly dirty, and they’ll need their teeth brushed daily. Trim their nails as needed, but if they’re allowed to run around as much as they want to, they’ll likely file them down on their own.

Unlike many dogs of their size, Polish Tatra Sheepdogs aren’t big droolers, so you can cuddle with them without needing to change your shirt afterward. You may need to clean around their eyes and inside their ears to prevent infection, though.

Health Conditions ❤️

Polish Tatra Sheepdogs are a hale and hardy breed, and they’re not prone to many congenital diseases.

Most of their illnesses will be due to poor diet or lack of exercise, so it’s important to keep them as healthy as you can. Investing in a good food will go a long way toward keeping your dog out of the vet’s office.

However, you also need to be careful about exercising them too much or at least, too vigorously. These are big, heavy animals, and their joints can’t take much high-impact activity. Many of their common injuries are due to being too vigorous on unforgiving surfaces.

Minor Conditions
  • Patellar luxation
  • Cataracts
  • Allergies
Serious Conditions
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Epilepsy

Male vs Female

Males are usually bigger than females, sometimes by as much as 10 or 20 pounds. They also tend to stand a few inches taller and take a little longer to mature.

Both genders are likely to be more focused on the job at hand than anything else, but boys will usually be more playful and attention-seeking than girls. That’s not to say that the ladies don’t enjoy affection, but they’ll often wait for you to come to them rather than the other way around.

Beyond that, though, there’s not much separating the sexes. You’ll get a fantastic dog regardless of which one you pick.

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Final Thoughts

The Polish Tatra Sheepdog isn’t a well-known breed, and that’s a shame because these are truly some of the best dogs in the world. Loving without being overbearing, protective without being aggressive, and energetic without being annoying, they represent the best of all possible worlds in many ways.

It may be hard to track one down, though, as the breed is extremely rare. They also need quite a bit of space to roam around, so they’re a poor fit for apartment dwellers. You may find them frustrating if you like your dogs to be cuddle bugs, as they often prefer to keep an eye on things from a distance.

If you have enough room for them, though, you’ll likely find that the breed makes a wonderful and doting companion. They may even do a better job of raising your kids than you — or at least, they’ll make sure there’s virtually no chance that any member of the family will get eaten by wolves on their watch.

Featured Image Credit: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek, Shutterstock

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